What Happened to the Eighth Dwarf?
Throughout history, there are many stories to teach us lessons by warning us of bad things that will undoubtedly happen should we choose not to change our ways. One of the most devastating stories, fallen through the cracks of time, has one of the most valuable lessons of all. It’s the story about the Seven Dwarfs, or the Eight Dwarfs as they were originally known, long before Snow White enters the picture with her ridiculously poisoned apple.
The dwarfs all grew up together because they have the same mom. Winifred was not a dwarf, but the typical every day girl who typically did nursing chores in caring for the villager’s children while they cooked and cleaned for their husbands. Her husband was a dwarf, but left her destitute when he found he was not only going to be the father of eight children, but of eight male octupulets. Not a dream for any sane man.
As the boys tumble about in their crib, they roll around for days waiting for a name, and soon they each find his own through his actions. Happy is always cheerful and giving; Sneezy always seems to have a cold; and Grumpy is never content no matter what exceptions are made for him, but some people are just that way. Bashful never volunteers for anything and can turn more shades of color than the Northern Lights, which is especially fun to tease on the boys’ birthday. Sleepy cannot stay awake long enough to finish an entire meal without falling into his plate due to an extreme case of narcolepsy. Dopey has difficulty keeping a conversation straight, much less contributing to it in a meaningful manner and Doc, the leader of the bunch who was literally born with gray hair, always cares and worries for his brothers. Being the first one born, naturally makes him the eldest of the brothers. This leaves but one brother unaccounted for, the eighth brother, Greedy. He didn’t live very long at all.
Every day the dwarves work for hours on end, mining for ore, iron, coal and on occasion even gold. One day as they are walking home after a very long day in the mine, Dopey stops to grab a flower for his mother, but what he actually plucks is not a flower at all, but the feather of a chickadee’s tail. The little bird cheeps loudly and makes such a commotion all of the dwarfs hear it and come running over to witness poor Dopey receiving “what for” from the bird. Of course, being as lame-minded as he is, Dopey has no idea what is going on until Doc listens closely and interprets to the others.
Doc reiterates to his brothers that if they can help it replace its feather, as he is off -balance now and will not be able to fly, he will take them to a mine far better than any they’ve ever mined before. They are all excited, as can be imagined, except for Sleepy who missed the whole conversation. They were anxious to begin and immediately set out to help the chickadee resolve its issue. They try glue, string, wire and everything under the sun to attach the feather back to the tail end of the bird to no avail. Finally, Doc invents a new way to balance out the bird’s tail with an array of leaves fastened onto a harness that cinches around the bird like a girdle. Sure, it isn’t attractive, but we all know sometimes “form and function” don’t always complement each other, and we have to do what works.
The bird is so grateful and forgiving of the dwarves that it tells them to meet tomorrow at the same place immediately after work to discover something so big, they will hardly have to work again. The dwarves are really happy then, and even Grumpy smiles enough to prove he still has his own teeth. (This was a running bet for a while between his brothers, but fell short when their mother found out about it and gave them a tongue-lashing.)
The following day, the dwarves go to work singing their Hi-Ho song, picks and shovels slung over their shoulders and work their little dwarf buns off. About two hours before time to leave, Greedy tells his brother, Doc, he isn’t feeling well and needs to go home and get some sleep so he will be ready when they all meet the chickadee later. Doc feels badly, but wants to ensure all of the brothers get to participate in the unveiling of their reward. He tells him that if he doesn’t feel better in time, they will still gladly share the reward. “Brothers are brothers!” he says cheerily, patting Greedy on the back.
Refusing to waste a moment’s breath, Greedy slips out of the cave and scampers off to the place they are to meet the chickadee. He finds a bush and climbs beneath it, setting his pick to the side, and waits. Not much time passes before the little chickadee arrives and appears puzzled as its little head cocks back and forth around the brush and grasses. “They asked me to come ahead and meet you during the daylight hours so I could more easily guide them at dusk,” he explains, but the bird just cocks its head this way and that, peering at him through beady eyes. Eventually, realizing the bird would never understand him, because unlike Doc, he has no ability to communicate in the bird’s own tongue, he stands to leave.
Just as he gathers himself and gets to his feet, the bird turns tail and begins to hop, instead of fly away. It stops a few feet away and turns back as if to ensure its newest companion is close behind. The chickadee flies and flits on branches as Greedy walks for at least an hour, before they finally arrive at a cluster of trees around a very large boulder. The bird hops onto the boulder and begins to peck at it. “Is that where the treasure is?” Greedy asks eagerly, and is pleased as the bird hops up and down emphatically.
The opening has a large boulder in front of it and after leveraging his pick to force it open, several times, he succeeds in rolling it out just enough to squeeze inside. He flips on his headgear’s light and finds himself speechless as he sees walls encrusted with diamonds! Glorious diamonds of all sizes glittering about him. He’s certain some of them would be too large to carry without breaking them up. He is so surprised he almost forgets his plan before he turns to see the bird hopping along the floor searching for bugs. With a swift arch of his back, he brings the pick down full-force right through the little bird’s back. Its tail, they had worked so hard to repair, twitches on the ground before its legs stop moving and it lies motionless.
“I’ve worked my whole life for a find such as this,” Greedy cheerfully announces at the top of his lungs, jumping up and down like a mad man, and hooting and hollering for all he was worth. A low rumble, soft enough not to be heard at first, creeps louder and louder until he realizes the predicament he will soon be in if he doesn’t hurry. But unable to move as fast as he needs to, the boulder in front of the door trembles until leaning snuggly against the opening. Additional rubble falls from the ceiling in front of the opening as a bonus sealant.
“My brothers will never find me, I’m too far away,” he sobs. “The bird cannot tell them where I am for it is dead.” He sits and thinks for a moment before aiming his helmet’s light about the cave in order to find his pick. Relief sweeps over him as he walks over and gathers his tool under his arm, walking away from where the opening had been and back to the glitteriest spot of the cave. “Just whistle while you work,” he sings as he chops with his pick. He continues hammering away at the walls, collecting all sorts of diamonds until his light dims down and disappears. “… forget your troubles, try to be just like the cheerful chickadee.”